Are banks the only source of funding for spiritual communities? For me, the answer to that question is no! Banks are a great resource. However, I have also found obtaining a loan can be difficult, in part because banks are concerned about potentially foreclosing on a church.
As it happens, Unity In Marin (UIM), Calif., has been in a bank-financed mortgage for ten years and we’re grateful we had it. Yet, every five years came the renegotiation…. Was there a better way? I am happy to declare, yes! And not only that, this other source lowered our interest rate, which greatly reduced our monthly payments. Here’s our story:
At UIM we feel it’s important to be good neighbors to each other, the Unity movement and other local nonprofits. Last year our Board of Trustees decided to invest some of our reserves in the Marin Community Foundation; an organization that funds below-market-rate loans to nonprofits. While this meant a slightly lower return on investment for us, we felt the money went to good use and was congruent with our values.
Several months later, Tom McAuliffe, our board chair, wondered whether the Marin Community Foundation would consider financing our $1.2 million mortgage. We made the inquiry and were informed that they’d not previously supported any spiritual or religious organization. But because we were such a unique spiritual community, they decided to consider us.
Synchronicities appeared along the way; I’ll highlight a few. The first request was for a recent audit. Guess what? We’d completed our very first one in 2012. Then, because we contribute financially to other nonprofits, we decided to share over 50 thank you letters we’d received in the past. Turns out we are supporting some of the same organizations they are!
Here’s the best part: the final document signing was to happen at 8 Willow. It’s an important address for Unity In Marin because we associate it with the first building we ever purchased, a 900-square-foot beauty parlor. We wondered if a mistake had been made and they’d inserted the address of our former building. As synchronicity would have it, 8 Willow is a conference room at the foundation named after the number of people it holds. If this wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what was! Our mortgage payment was reduced by $3,200 a month.
Banks are not the only source of financing for churches! Our alternative financing originated from being a good neighbor. God is truly our source of supply.